A bad gimmick can spell the end of a wrestling career. Sometimes there is just no coming back from something embarrassing, poorly thought out, or a gimmick that just doesn’t get over with the crowd. They say the best gimmicks are just when a wrestler acts like themselves with the volume turned up to 11. But when it gets overly complicated, there is little chance it is going to succeed, as the crowd isn’t going to understand it.
It can shorten anyone’s career, and in the world of professional wrestling where you only have a limited window to make money, getting stuck with a go-no-where gimmick isn’t going to help you get merchandise off the shelf, or make you the superstar of the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock or John Cena. Many wrestlers have had to battle through very tough gimmicks and had to make the best of then, while others have simply walked away and pursued other goals in life, be it in another promotion, or in another line of work.
Here are 15 wrestlers who had terrible gimmicks and where they are now. It’s all across the board when it comes to how the future plays out when you get stuck with a terrible gimmick, and for the most part, it doesn’t hurt your future. Just as long as you aren’t counting on professional wrestling to be your bread and butter for the rest of your life. Sometimes, you need to cut your losses and just move on.
The flamboyant Rico was best known for his time as the manager of Billy and Chuck, or rather, their personal stylist and at one point, their wedding planner. The stylist gimmick didn’t last much longer, and Rico eventually moved on to managing Three Minute Warning. He then returned to the exotic style gimmick and teamed with Charlie Haas, whom he won the WWE Tag Team Championships with.
Today, Rico is an inspector for the Nevada Taxi Cab Authority and has suffered a health issue relating to heart problems and concussions. It would seem only fitting that a man that was all about exotic style would end up in Vegas of all places, but it definitely wasn’t a gimmick that was going to win over a male demographic in professional wrestling.
14 The Boogeyman
A gimmick so bad, it has a legends contract in the WWE and continues to make appearances to this day, The Boogeyman started as a horror gimmick before becoming pure comic relief. If you thought Bray Wyatt was weird, he doesn’t hold a candle to the man that eats live worms, breaks clocks over his head to the point where he starts to bleed, crawls to the ring, and uses the catchphrase, ‘I’m the Boogeyman, and I’m coming to getchya’. He even ate the growth that was on Jillian Hall’s face when she played JBL’s fixer. But Wright is also an aerobics instructor in Denver, so at least he will always be fit and ready to return to the ring, even if it’s just to get tossed out during the Royal Rumble.
13 Kerwin White
Chavo Guerrero Jr., one of the most known members of the Guerrero wrestling family, denounced his Mexican heritage and became Kerwin White, a stereotypical, middle-class, white, conservative, Anglo-American man, who died his hair blonde and drove a golf cart, complete with clubs, to the ring. He started to direct attacks at every other race on the roster, most notably against Shelton Benjamin, and hired Nick Nemeth, better known as Dolph Ziggler today, to be his caddy. Chavo would drop the gimmick after his uncle Eddie Guerrero passed away. He would bounce around the WWE for a few more years, and wrestle outside the company for TNA and the upstart, Lucha Underground. He would end up losing a ‘Loser leaves Lucha Underground’ match to Rey Mysterio, and left the ring to take a job backstage as a producer for the promotion.
When you have an Irish wrestler in Fit Finlay, of course he needs a leprechaun beside him. Insert Hornswoggle, who tagged along side Finlay and even managed to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Hornswoggle was typecast from the very beginning, but it didn’t stop WWE from trying to insert him into terrible storylines. If being a leprechaun wasn’t enough, Hornswoggle was also the illegitimate son of WWE CEO Vince McMahon, and was the anonymous general manager of Monday Night RAW, controlling things from under the ring and sending instructions to a computer located at ringside, which Michael Cole would read out and everyone would follow. Hornswoggle would drop the ‘horn’ from his name and still wrestle in other promotions, and currently runs his own promotion, All-Star Championship Wrestling of Wisconsin. I guess he learned a thing or two during his time as general manager.
It’s actually pretty amazing when you think about Kamala that despite the terrible gimmick, that resulted in no championship reigns during his time with WWE, he worked with the two biggest names to come from the WWE in Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker. Today, however, Kamala is in rough shape health wise. He stopped wrestling in 2010, and has had both legs amputated due to high blood pressure, and had to seek donations to cover his medical costs. Kamala had life-saving surgery in November 2017 after fluid was found around his heart and lungs. He survived, but it’s been a tough road for a man who once wrestled the biggest names in wrestling. Updates on his health don't come often, but on last check he had improved slightly in his recovery.
10 Isaac Yankem
Again, WWE tried to put a real-world job gimmick on a character when the created Jerry Lawler’s personal dentist, Isaac Yankem. The name alone is terrible, but just the thought that someone believed a dentist character would get over with the fans makes you question a lot of early WWE decisions. If you don’t know, Yankem wouldn’t last long (big surprise) and would eventually turn into Kane, after a short stint as fake Diesel. Glenn Jacobs, the man behind the gimmicks, has enjoyed success with the Kane gimmick for over two decades, but it’s his political ambitions that are not getting the most attention, as Jacobs announced he would run for mayor under a republican ticket for the seat of Knox County. Well, if Jesse Ventura can be governor, we don’t see why not.
9 Planet Stasiak
Before there was Stardust who thought he was from a different planet, there was the original another-planet character in Shawn Stasiak. Originally the ‘boy-toy’ of the Pretty Mean Sisters faction and wrestled under the name Meat. After a return to the WWE, he claimed he was from the Planet Stasiak and that he heard voices in his head. He talked in rhymes, and basically was a comical jobber, who traded the then 24/7 Hardcore championship a couple of times before he requested he release from the company and retired from wrestling. But Stasiak isn’t a failed story, despite his failure with gimmicks. He became a chiropractor and works with the Advanced Comprehensive Medical team based out of Texas. He also does motivational speaking and has had himself a successful life outside of the ring. Just as long as he doesn’t start hearing voices again, he should be fine.
8 Paul Burchill
Paul Burchill had back-to-back bad gimmicks in the WWE, and the first one was entirely his own doing. Burchill informed creative that he had heritage tracing back to Blackbeard the pirate, and he wanted to do a pirate gimmick on Smackdown. So he showed up looking pretty Jack Sparrowish and had small program with William Regal who begged him to switch his gimmick. He eventually would change after Vince McMahon thought he should be a real pirate, not just a guy playing one, and teamed up with Katie Lea Burchill, his on-screen sister.
Burchill was eventually released from WWE, but continues to wrestle today, but he also is throwing on another coat and hat, only this time, it’s as a fire fighter. Let’s hope he doesn’t decide that would be a great gimmick as well.
In a parody of the successful Goldberg gimmick from WCW, WWE had Gillberg, a cruiserweight version that wore black trunks, walked through sparklers, was disoriented when a member of the JOB Squad used a fire extinguisher to create the smoke effect, and displayed the over-the-top mannerisms of his WCW counterpart. He even won the WWE Light Heavyweight championship from Christian, holding the title for 15 months at a time when the championship wasn’t defended at all on television, before losing it to a debuting Essa Rios. But the Gillberg gimmick wouldn’t have nearly the same legs as Goldberg. Today, Gillberg runs a wrestling school and still makes appearances. Not bad for a guy who literally was a smaller copycat version of the best gimmick WCW managed to come up with in their entire run.
6 Papa Shango
Charles Wright has had plenty of gimmicks in the WWE, including a legit shoot fighter, and everyone’s favorite, The Godfather. But Wright as Papa Shango was a character that was overthought and missed its mark, especially considering he was feuding with big name talent at the time, including Hulk Hogan. The voodoo practitioner gimmick would cast spells on wrestlers and cause their opponents pain. It was voted the worst gimmick and most embarrassing wrestler in the Wrestling Observer back in 1992, as it took the make-believe world of professional wrestling to a whole different world. Luckily, Wright will be more remembered for The Godfather, and he may have channelled that character into his life after wrestling, as he become a general manager of an exotic dance club in Las Vegas.
The original Mideon was a brainwashed servant of the Undertaker’s Ministry of Darkness. Along with Viscera and the Acolytes and of course the leader the Undertaker, they feuded with the Corporation, and Stone Cole Steve Austin. He was used more as distraction character, interrupting matches by running through the ring, and eventually retired for wrestling in 2006. After retiring, Dennis Knight the man behind the fanny pack, started working as chef in Clearwater, Flordia and now runs his own catering business called Dennis Knight Catering. Considering he went from a brainwashed character to leading his own company, and more importantly, one where he wears pants, Knight is another success story in the world of wrestling after leaving the industry on his own terms.
4 The Shockmaster
The sparkling helmet of The Shockmaster and his infamous debut in WCW is enough to say about this character, portrayed by Free Ottman, better know as Tugboat or Typhoon in WWE, where he was a member of the Natural Disasters. The gimmick was such a disaster that WCW decided, let’s give it another try, and brought Ottman back as The Super Shockmaster.
Today Ottman makes his living as a safety manager for a building cleaning services company. You have to wonder if he has to wear a helmet at his current job and if it’s as sparkling as his time as The Shockmaster. If I’m a co-worker of his, I’d easily make this a constant running gag on this man, even if he was known for splashing down his over 300lbs frame on men in the middle of the ring.
3 The Spirit Squad
In 2006, Vince McMahon had the idea to create a cheerleading team. Now if this was a few years earlier in the Attitude Era, we would have been pretty excited, but it was an all male cheerleading team. The five member team, Kenny, Johnny, Mitch, Nicky and Mikey, had limited success for a cheerleading squad, as they won the WWE Tag Team Championships once, but by the end of the year, the team was finished and disbanded. Of the team, Nicky is the most successful, still wrestling for WWE today as Dolph Ziggler. Mitch had a small stint in MMA, while Kenny and Mikey just resulted challenged the Young Bucks in Ring of Honor for the Tag Team Championships as the Spirit Squad. Johnny is the only one who went and got a real job, as he is now an accountant and lies in Arizona.
At a time when the WWE already had one superhero with The Hurricane, they decided they needed to add a second, because every superhero needs a sidekick. Insert, Rosey, who went from being a member of 3 Minute Warning, to wearing a cheap superhero costume, while performing under the SuperHero In Training. The creative geniuses at work there. He did manage to win the WWE Tag Team Championships with Hurricane once, which is more than he could say he did as part of 3 Minute Warning. After his release from the WWE, he still continued to use the Rosey superhero character, and eventually ended up running his own promotion. However, in April of 2017, Rosey would pass away due to congestive heart failure. The gimmick may have been comical, but for a big man who have the Anoaʻi' family lineage, he never should have been reduced to that gimmick.
1 Garbage Man
Someone in WWE creative thought giving wrestlers professional gimmicks was a good idea and was probably thinking on trash day that a garbage man would be a great gimmick. You can only image what was going through Duke Droese’s head when they told him he’d be the Garbage Man from Mt. Trashmore. The height of his in-ring career was when he handed a young Triple H his first loss in WWE, earning himself the No. 30 spot in the 1996 Royal Rumble.
Since then, Droese became a teacher with special needs kids, before he was arrested on three counts of delivery of a controlled substance, having unknowingly sold medication to an undercover police informant. He was let go from his teaching job and hasn’t made any appearances. At least if he needs a second career option after wrestling, he could just tap his roots and start picking up trash.